Lead Generation and the Supervillain Market

There was a time when playing the villain was a bad thing. But apparently, a few marketing and business trends are actually capitalizing on casting the bad guy in a far-from-bad sort of light. Is this an angle that can help your lead generation strategy? (Or is it a scheme now?)

Well, let’s start with a consumer example such as Jaguar’s recent marketing campaign featuring British villains. In fact, take a closer look at this quote right here:

It’s more about having a certain flair and style, something that we hope will appeal to our target market — for example, they might be entrepreneurs or tech startup guys who themselves like to disrupt the status quo.”

This is one of the justifications for adopting this seemingly insidious marketing plot. Coincidentally (Or perhaps not?), Forbes just came out with a brief article listing five supervillain moments in Silicon Valley, Land of the Tech Titans.

So what does this mean for marketers working on IT lead generation campaigns? Is it possible you just might be in cahoots with a real life Loki or a modern Moriarty? Better question: Is that really so bad?

See, there’s an appeal to being the ‘bad guy’ (or at least eschewing the notions of emulating traditional heroes). It comes with its own sense of style, deviancy, and finally, it shows more appreciation for a prospect’s ambitions.

That’s right. Ambitions. Oh wait, isn’t there another word for that in B2B marketing?

Think about it. After all, IT is an industry of solutions.  When you’re marketing your own tech company (whether you’re a startup or a growing enterprise), the first thing you do is solve problems. These problems are problems because they prevent the achievement of goals.

Do you see it now?
Goal is really just another word for ambition.

Therefore, if you’re looking to help a prospect achieve a goal, you need to show appreciation for their ambition. The risk of playing the bad guy simply comes from other parties who don’t want to see those goals achieved (you might even wonder who the REAL villain is at this point).

The next challenge therefore is how do you deal with those who want to thwart your prospect’s ambitions? The truth is that a customer’s needs aren’t all black and white. What is unthinkable for one can be a much needed remedy for another. What doesn’t change though is that they are still your customer, they’re the ones paying you in the end so you might as well take measures to establish good ties with them:

  • Find sympathizers – If a certain process or technology offends the sensibilities of one type of business, that type has its counterpart. For example, say you’re marketing on LinkedIn. Instead of going to groups that constantly blast and criticize how IT ‘dehumanizes’ work, look for groups that value more automation and more security controls. It might sound like preaching to the choir but at least this choir pays and lets you establish authority.
  • Establish dominanceDon’t just stick to blogging to secure thought leadership. Getting sympathizers can only get you so far. You’re not looking to be just another company suffering at the hands of so-called anti-IT ‘heroes.’ You want to be the company that wants to put a stop to that. You want to be the beacon for those who actually want the solution no matter what other critics will tell you. The more you become their resource, the more they will acknowledge your expertise and dominance.
  • Build alliances – From the sympathizers, you should find other thought leaders who think along the same lines as you do. Feature them on your own blog. Invite them to events as guests so both of you can establish more credibility. And finally, these alliances can be your own resource in your battle against those who prefer ‘conventional’ and ‘ethical’ IT.
  • Know the enemies – Don’t think the competition exists just within a competitor’s own company. It also exists in the market in the form of their own sympathizers and influencers. Identify their leading figures, their alliances just as you have come to identify your own. Hero or villain, victory isn’t achieved without at least a solid idea of who you’re up against.

Every lead generation campaign thrives on a target market and every IT company thrives on fulfilling its needs. Shifting the focus to anything else besides that is counterproductive. Ignore the protestors, the activists, and the names they’ve slapped upon your business. If your ‘evil’ prospects are not discouraged by all that, then nothing should you stop you from setting up shop in the supervillain’s market.

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